Just in case you’re feeling the victim of a stupid day, I’m qualified to keep you company

I did something really stupid today. I paid too much attention to what other people might think of what I wanted to do. Because of this I curtailed my actions to what I supposed was expected of me and I changed plans. Truly, my plan–my wish–never had a chance. It was sabotaged from the beginning due to my inbred inclination to serve others perception of me. What a mistake! I could have enjoyed myself so much if I hadn’t allowed my idol of human opinion to derail my desire.

The thing that you have to know is that what I wanted to do was good. In fact, in regard to general morality, it was neutral. I wasn’t afraid to do it because it was bad or because it would prove to be beneficial to me in only a weak degree, but because I lacked the courage to back up my decision if someone should call it into question. But even worse, to me, was the prospect of silent evaluations being made of me which I could not contest because they would never be openly voiced.

Now, to some of you, these fears I’m sharing with you may sound outlandish, or at the very least, strongly self-centered. While others of you will know exactly the grounds on which I base these bits of thought-clutter. But, regardless of what you might think, I tell you these things because I want help and I know that help doesn’t meander in the dark where I’ve been hiding. I know that my thoughts are wrong and I want to confess that this is so. I want the chance to relearn other thoughts that will take their place. And, if you find yourself in a similar place, I want you, also, to leave the haunts of broken thinking in pursuit of a pure mind.

Can a pure mind fix itself on what it cannot be sure is true? I never thought of this as a point of application for Philippians 4:8, but maybe I just never looked at the words closely enough; that is, I never saw my heart and mind set as the backdrop to them.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure…think about these things.”

Choosing to make the thoughts of others–what they think of me–the forefront of my thinking earlier was disastrous for many reasons. Most of them can be summed up with the fact that they made it impossible for me to be obedient to this verse. In fact, that preoccupation forced me to cast far from me the counsel God gives me through it.

Consider this with me:

  • If I am anticipating others’ judgments of me, I am judging others; not on their behavior–which displays some level of truth about them–but based on what I am willing to be believe them capable of in terms of sin against me. By so doing, I am living outside the limits of the truth. I am, essentially, choosing to believe a lie (an unproven truth) about others even while I am afraid that they will believe lies about me. I am not constraining my thoughts to whatever is true.
  • If I am focusing my thoughts on the worst possible things that another person or a group of people could do to me (in the form of thoughts or actions) I surely cannot call my thoughts honorable. I try to maintain my honor by stripping others of theirs. I do it in advance so as to eliminate as much risk of humiliation as possible. This thinking actually dishonors me as it reveals an anxiety-ridden mind that does not honor God with trust. I cannot fix my mind on whatever is honorable while at the same time ruminating over all that is potentially dishonorable. There is only so much room in my brain. God designed it to hold nothing more than whatever is honorable.
  • If I am wrapped up in imagining whatever impure thoughts people could possibly have of me, I will find it impossible to cultivate a pure thought-life. For one thing, I am not thinking pure thoughts of others. For another, I am not removing from my mind the garbage of doubt, distrust and ambiguity. I am letting confusion fester in my brain and lead me to places I don’t want to go. As I work to appear pure, my prideful motives work against real purity being cultivated within me. I chose a counterfeit purity that does not obey God’s instruction to feast my mind on whatever is pure.

Come, friend, let’s get up and begin to exercise the kind of thinking that is true, honorable and pure. And, if we look stupid while we’re doing it, at least it won’t be because we made ourselves victims of god-less thinking!

 

The kind of robbery I really enjoy

I want to know what you think about robbery.

(I know, you get asked this all the time, but humor me!)

I know, it’s disgusting, isn’t it?

Atrocious.

But what about if it isn’t your house that’s been robbed? What if the thief had a good reason? What if he didn’t mean to offend or defraud his victim? What if he was merely taking what was his? What if he had no other choice?

Would you prosecute him? Would you sentence him to jail?

What would you do in this situation? Would you sit back and hope it would go away? What if you knew you had to make a decision? What if you knew the whole weight of justice rested on you?

What if you liked him?

My, now that would be some problem! Probably incurable, I’d reckon. Highly inconvenient, wouldn’t you say?

(I know I would say that if I was in that situation.)

Is it possible to be neutral toward the case and yet invested in it at the same time? God was…in your case.

He was fully committed to justice and fully committed to you at the same time. So God subjected His Son to the demands justice made of Him because of you. Jesus Christ represented the Father and He represented you.

For God He was divine and perfectly holy–honoring His Father in all things; for you He was human and tempted by all the pleasures of sin that would cause Him to disobey His Father.

But that is not what He did. The divine part of Him became the head of the human part of Him, directing it; and the human part of Him submitted to the divine part of Him, receiving the other. The two parts of Him worked together making His death and resurrection a pleasing restitution; even becoming the reconciliation of God and man.

So, despite the fact that God had no leniency in His judgments toward robbery, He loved you who robbed Him of His glory and authority in your life.

Yet how fitting that He would resolve the matter with His own “robbery” of heaven. He, who did not belong on earth among us, came down and made His home with us. All of heavens joys and abundance that He once so rightly enjoyed He forsook to claim your sin. Then, when your sin was dealt with, He rose to give Himself and all His inheritance away to you, if the robber should accept.

Isn’t that a joy?